Bible Focus: 1 Kings 11-16
So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day, as the king had ordered: “Return to me on the third day.” Then the king answered the people harshly. He rejected the advice the elders had given him and spoke to them according to the young men’s advice: “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with barbed whips.”
The king did not listen to the people, because this turn of events came from the LORD to carry out his word, which the LORD had spoken through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam son of Nebat.1 Kings 12:12-15 CSB
This Tuesday, November 8, is Election Day here in the United States. Many of our registered voters will vote in this election. But many other registered voters won’t vote in this election, even though they can. And others have a right to vote, but since they did not register in time to vote, they won’t have the choice to vote in this election.
Consider those three groups in the previous paragraph. Only the first group will have the power to determine the outcome of the election. The second group will have the opportunity, but they won’t take advantage of it. The third group won’t have the opportunity, because they didn’t prepare for it. The personal choices represented in these groups have consequences. The first group is the only one with any real power, but all three groups carry some measure of responsibility, and all of the groups will have to live with the outcome.
I believe the right to vote is a great privilege, so I make a significant effort to vote. However, it’s helpful for me to remember that my vote has very limited power. I can’t control who runs for office, nor can I control the outcome of the election. And even if all my preferred candidates win, I cannot control what those elected officials choose to do when they take office. I can only be faithful in my part of the process.
We find a similar dynamic at play between the will of God and our own choices. God has given us the ability to make real choices with real consequences. But compared to God, we don’t know much and we can’t control much about our life. We need to follow and trust the God who is truly in control.
In his later years, King Solomon turned away from God and followed after the idols of his many wives. So God told Solomon that he would tear most of the Israelite kingdom away from Solomon’s son. Later, God told Solomon’s servant Jeroboam that he would rule over Israel. God promised to bless Jeroboam’s family if Jeroboam would follow God as David had.
When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king. Jeroboam went to Rehoboam with representatives from Israel, and promised to serve Rehoboam if he loosened some of Solomon’s harsh rules. Rehoboam asked for three days to consider their request. The older men in his administration advised him to take the deal, but the younger men told him to reject it strongly. Rehoboam chose to follow the foolish advice of the younger men. As a result, most of Israel rebelled, pledging allegiance to Jeroboam. Judah was still loyal to Rehoboam, and he briefly tried to regain the kingdom by force, but God stopped him.
But the word of God came to Shemaiah, the man of God: “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon, king of Judah, to the whole house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: You are not to march up and fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Each of you return home, for this situation is from me.’” So they listened to the word of the LORD and went back according to the word of the LORD.1 Kings 12:22-24 CSB
Meanwhile, Jeroboam got busy establishing the kingdom he had received. After a while, he became concerned that the kingdom might return to Rehoboam, because the temple of God in Jerusalem was in Judah’s territory. After seeking advice, Jeroboam chose to set up an entirely separate religious system, with its own gods, shrines, festivals, and priests. As a consequence of this betrayal, God told Jeroboam he would eventually eliminate Jeroboam’s entire royal family.
Go tell Jeroboam, ‘This is what the LORD God of Israel says: I raised you up from among the people, appointed you ruler over my people Israel, tore the kingdom away from the house of David, and gave it to you. But you were not like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what is right in my sight. You behaved more wickedly than all who were before you. In order to anger me, you have proceeded to make for yourself other gods and cast images, but you have flung me behind your back. Because of all this, I am about to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam: I will wipe out all of Jeroboam’s males, both slave and free, in Israel; I will sweep away the house of Jeroboam as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone! Anyone who belongs to Jeroboam and dies in the city, the dogs will eat, and anyone who dies in the field, the birds will eat, for the LORD has spoken!’1 Kings 14:7-11 CSB
If Jeroboam had decided to follow God faithfully, then none of Jeroboam’s fears would have come true. God had promised to establish Jeroboam’s royal house if Jeroboam would obey him. But instead, Jeroboam listened to bad advice and became convinced that God was a liability. So he tried to toss God aside, and in doing so, he sealed his fate.
Here’s the good news. If we find that we’re trying to live life without God, we don’t have to keep making that choice. Jesus came to save us who once were in rebellion against God. We can turn back to God, believe in God’s Son who died for our sins, and learn to follow God’s Word instead of bad advice. We’ll still make plenty of wrong mistakes, but we’ll be forgiven and following the One who is truly in control.
Featured image from David Martin on Unsplash.
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1 thought on “Choice, Consequence, and Control”
Thanks for the election perspective. Totally agree. Jim